Stile Antico & Fretwork – Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart: Tudor & Jacobean music for private devotion (2012) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/88,2kHz]

Stile Antico & Fretwork – Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart: Tudor & Jacobean music for private devotion (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:04:35 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © harmonia mundi

For its latest recording on Harmonia Mundi, Stile Antico is joined by the outstanding viol consort Fretwork to explore the wealth of sacred music written not for church performance, but for the court and for the home. Sung entirely in English, this fascinating programme spans two centuries and a vast range of styles, from the austerity of Browne and Taverner to the harmonic daring of Tomkins and Ramsey, and from the smallest works by Campion and Dowland to the great verse anthems of Gibbons and Amner.

‘We are enjoined by this fine recital to bring nuance to distinctions between sacred and secular, and what we sometimes sloppily assume to be public and private modes of musical expression in 16th-century England. The very concept of ‘private musical devotion’ we might melodramatically associate with priest-holes, and Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices in a wardrobe. Some wardrobe it would have to be to accommodate the 12 exultant voices of Tomkins’s O praise the Lord, which is one instance of several on the album where the conceit is stretched thin: just because the piece survives in a private (as opposed to ecclesiastical) collection doesn’t mean that is its natural home. What’s more important is that Stile Antico’s sleek tuning and supple attention to words, and the studio recording, intimate but not claustrophobic, do bring a carefully plotted span (over 120 years) of sacred styles into our listening rooms with rare success.

The 12 singers don’t go all out for the full-blooded staging of madrigalian word-painting that we’d hear from The Cardinall’s Musick, and they use less vibrato than some long-established groups, but they no less effectively build the structures of verse anthems by Gibbons and Amner. The latter’s A stranger here is a remarkable discovery for me, with its culminating, dissonant Amen. Amid such rich Jacobean harmonies, the restrained precision of Browne’s carol Jesu, mercy effects a welcome shock to the listening ear. Melancholy introspection is banished at length by Gibbons’s embrace of the entire Incarnation, sung not with the haloed eloquence of the Clerkes of Oxenford but rather the keen interplay of Red Byrd, only without the artfully local pronunciation. To have Fretwork on hand is a further boon.’ (Peter Quantrill, Gramophone)

THOMAS TOMKINS (1572 – 1656)
1 O praise the Lord 03:45
JOHN AMNER (? – 1641)
2 O ye little flock 07:06
JOHN TAVERNER (c.1490 – 1545)
3 In nomine 02:03
ROBERT RAMSEY (1590 – 1644)
4 How are the mighty fall’n – Gloria 06:29
THOMAS TALLIS (c.1505 – 1585)
5 Purge me, O Lord 01:51
6 A stranger here – Sanctus & Benedictus 05:04
ROBERT PARSONS (c.1530 – 1570)
7 In nomine a4 no.1 02:35
JOHN BROWNE (fl.1480 – 1505)
8 Jesu, mercy, how may this be? – Agnus Dei 10:03
ROBERT PARSONS (c.1530 – 1570)
9 In nomine a4 no.2 02:19
GIOVANNI CROCE (c.1557 – 1609)
10 From profound centre of my heart 04:36
JOHN DOWLAND (1562/63 – 1626)
11 I shame at my unworthiness 02:21
THOMAS CAMPION (c.1567 – 1619)
12 Never weather-beaten sail 02:39
WILLIAM BYRD (c.1540 – 1623)
13 Why do I use my paper, ink and pen? 02:30
THOMAS TOMKINS (1572 – 1656)
14 When David heard 05:03
ORLANDO GIBBONS (1583 – 1625)
15 See, see, the Word is incarnate 06:18

Stile Antico:
Helen Ashby, soprano
Kate Ashby, soprano
Rebecca Hickey, soprano
Emma Ashby, alto
Eleanor Harries, alto
Carris Jones, alto
Jim Clements, tenor
Andrew Griffiths, tenor
Benedict Hymas, tenor (*soloist on Track 13)
Will Dawes, bass
Oliver Hunt, bass
Matthew O’Donovan, bass



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